O you who believe! Fear Allah-SWT ...so that you may find guidance.
O believers! When you have been blessed with so many means of guidance, fear Allah-SWT as He-SWT should be feared. Taqwa does not really refer to the commonly understood fear, but is a fear of disconnection of that relationship with Allah-SWT , which has been attained through the Holy Prophet-SW. Besides the teachings of the Holy Prophet-SW, the feelings also form part of his-SW Barakah that led to the change of hearts, temperaments, desires and priorities. As a result practising Din became a second nature for them and sin rendered totally repulsive. So these blessings must be carefully preserved and must never be lost. Most of the commentators have quoted a Hadith giving essence of Taqwa: Taqwa demands that: “(a believer) must submit, and never disobey; do Zikr and never forget; be grateful and never be an ingrate.”
Gratitude itself is a form of Zikr. Constant Zikr can only be achieved through Zikr-e-Qalbi and not through Zikr-e-Lisani. The former is the spiritual beneficence and Barakah, which is attained by mankind in the august company or the Holy Prophet-SW. When Zikr initiates Qalb, the limbs abstain from Allah-SWT’s disobedience. In case of an error, peculiar to human beings, the heart feels the pangs and the person immediately reverts to Allah-SWT , repentant. So one must try to attain these feelings and live with an enlightened heart until the last moment of his life.
Taqwa, Rewards And Levels
The rewards of Taqwa have various levels. The first level is to refrain from disbelief and polytheism, without which one cannot become a Muslim. The second level is to guard against sin, which is desirable. The third and the most exalted level is enjoyed by the Prophets-AS or by their chosen deputies, the Aulia. This is to dedicate the heart purely to Allah-SWT and to keep it alive by perpetual Zikr, a state bestowed on the former by Allah-SWT and attained by the latter through total adherence to the Prophets-AS. A Muslim must strive for the highest level of Taqwa till he dies. In other words, one must try not only to remain steadfast on faith but also endeavour to obey the Holy Prophet-SW till the last breath. And it is a Divine Command to all Muslims, to hold on together firmly to His-SWT Cord.
How Is Unity Possible?
Do not dispute, for unity is possible only over the Word of Allah-SWT.Although groups all over the world talk about unity, but the number of disputes and differences continues to rise. The reason is that the majority cannot agree on the ideas of a few people, for after all they are also human beings having their own views. Every person or group invites the rest to agree with their system, while unanimous agreement is only possible over Divine Guidance and Book. Not only is this possible but indeed it is most appropriate and conducive to human temperament.
The Jews and the Christians or other false religions also claim to possess the Divine Guidance. And it is an established fact that they cannot present anyone like the Holy Prophet-SW nor anything similar to the Quran. An impartial observer will certainly find Islam to be the only beacon of guidance. And for the Muslims, there remains no room for any debate because they have confessed Unity and have pledged their obedience to the Holy Prophet-SW. They should hold on firmly to the Quran, termed as Allah-SWT’s Cord. According to some Ahadith, the group comprising the Companions-RAU of the Holy Prophet-SW, is also called as the Divine Cord as narrated by Hadhrat Ibn Mas’ud-RAU and some other companions-RAU. However, if anyone tries to impose his own opinion in the interpretation of the Quran, there can be no consensus because no one is competent to interpret the Quran save the Holy Prophet-SW. Interpreting the Quran is part of the assignment of the Prophethood. The essence of unity is to unite according to Allah-SWT’s Book as interpreted by His Prophet-SW and this is the only way to make it possible. Otherwise there will be discord, forbidden by Allah-SWT . He-SWT bids, “do not separate like the Jews and the Christians in matters of your Din.”
According to the Holy Prophet-SW, the Jews and Christians had split into seventy-two sects while his-SW Ummah would split into seventy-three and all would be Hell bound except one. The Companions-RAU inquired: “O Prophet-SW of Allah-SWT ! Who will be that fortunate group?” The Holy Prophet-SW replied that they would be the people on his-SW path and the path of his-SW Companions-RAU.
Number Of Sects
Tafsir-e-Qartabi has listed seventy-two sects, originating from basic six-namely the Haruriyah, Qudriayah, Jahmiyah, Marjiah, Rafidhiah and Jabriyah. Each sect has twelve offshoots making a total of seventy-two. Take note that the deniers of retribution in the grave form part of these sects. Details may be seen in Tafsir-e Qartabi, vol. IV p.p. 141-163.
Now coming to the point whether at all any form of disagreement is permissible? The one based on personal desire, in fact, is deplorable. But if the Muslims, owing to their intellectual capabilities, differ only in minor details while adhering to Quran and embracing its interpretation as given by the Holy Prophet-SW, it is a desirable act. Such differences have been declared as a blessing in the Ummah by the Holy Prophet-SW; the same type of differences existed among the Companions-RAU, the Taba’in and the jurists in their respective eras.
Allah-SWT reminds the believers of His-SWT Bounties and Favours at the time when they were foes to one another. The very first addressees of the Quran are the Companions-RAU, followed by rest of the mankind. The pre-Islamic Arabia was torn apart by tribal conflicts, including the two Ansar tribes of Aus and Khazraj who had been at war for over a century.
These Ayat were revealed when a Jew named Shams bin Qais could not bear to see the Muslims of Aus and Khazraj united, out of sheer spite. He motivated a youth to sit with them and talk about the wars they had fought in the past, and to recite odes written about those wars. This plan worked and both sides took the bait, raised war cries and drew the arms. The Holy Prophet-SW rushed to the scene with a group of Companions-RAU and intervened: “Are you turning back to ignorance even though Allah-SWT has inspired affection in your hearts and I am present amongst you?” Everyone dropped the weapons and embraced one another crying and went along the Holy Prophet-SW. Besides, every inch of Arabia was under the thick clouds of war and unrest. The honour and property of none was secure. People killed one another for one morsel of bread. In this darkness, the Holy Prophet-SW came as a saviour and filled the hearts with love and affection. The bandits turned into benign guardians and the burglars into best judges. The atmosphere changed completely, and the scattered and the divided Arabs united into a lead-filled wall of Islam. They rose with the Message of Allah-SWT and spread it the world over. The hardships experienced by one, brought sorrow to all, and they defended one another by taking the blow on their own bodies. The world witnessed a unique hue of love when on a battlefield a soldier on the throes of death was offered water but he requested that it be served to his fellow wounded solider first.
This love and affection, this spirit of sacrifice for others was indeed a great favour emanating from the Barakah of the Holy Prophet-SW, which made the believers as brothers to one another. Outside Arabia, the conditions were not any better. Human beings were busy killing one another. The Message of Islam induced love and tolerance wherever it reached. Even today the sincerity and true love originates only from Islam; while lip service, formality and deception rules the world. No one is a well-wisher of the other. Amongst the Muslims all those whose words are not supported by their hearts have stern temperaments while those enlightened with Allah-SWT’s Zikr are very sincere and affectionate because their love is above vested interests and is purely for Allah-SWT.All other forms of love are motivated by some benefit. Once the purpose is achieved the love wanes away, otherwise it turns into enmity. And where hearts are bound together for Allah-SWT , no upheaval of time can cause dissension.
Barakah Of First Two Caliphs Era
The Barakah of the era of the Holy Prophet-SW continued to prevail in the period of Shaikhain (the first two Caliphs). This is why their caliphate is called, “Ala Minhaj un-Nabuwwah (on path of the Prophethood).
The first six years of Hadhrat ‘Uthman-RAU’s (the third Caliph) regime were attended by similar Barakah, whence the conflicts made their inroads. The intrigues like Ibn-e Saba’s rose and their conspiracies did not even let Hadhrat ‘Ali-RAU, the fourth Caliph, live in peace. Maulana Syed Manazir Ahsan Gilani-RUA has discussed these events in detail in his “Tadwin-e Hadith” (p 460) and may be seen there.
And 'O people you were on the brink of an abyss of fire. And only death stood between you and Hell. Allah-SWT saved you from it. This too was the Barakah of Allah-SWT’s Prophet-SW, who has been a source of guidance for His-SWT creation and those who were blessed by his-SW company became instrumental in saving mankind from the punishments of Akhirah. The strayed became the guides for others, a glance turned the dead into messiahs (healers).
The great Companions-RAU proved their devotion so truly, that following their footsteps, was itself declared as adherence to the Holy Prophet-SW. And Allah-SWT’s Book gives mankind a yardstick forever when it says: “And those who nobly followed them (9:100)”, that is, anyone who from the depths of his heart will follow both the Muhajirin (the migrants from Makkah) and Ansar will attain Allah-SWT’s Pleasure. Along with this he will also win the rewards of the Aakhirah, as well as his share of the Barakah of the Holy Prophet-SW.
Characteristics Of Shaikh
The above Ayat have a message for the seekers of the truth. They must choose such a person as their Shaikh in whose company they get motivated to obey the Holy Prophet-SW as well as his-SW Companions-RAU, which again is just another form of his-SW obedience. The Shaikh must not be a person who leads to Bid’ah. May Allah-SWT save us from the company of the latter!
Allah-SWT makes it easy for the people to follow the path of guidance by revealing clear reasoning whereby anyone who contemplates, putting his bias aside, can get to the truth.
And let there be out of you a group ... whom there is a grave punishment.
When Allah-SWT commanded the Muslims to hold strongly on to His-SWT Cord, He-SWT also made sure that their hold is not weakened at any time by enjoining that there must always be a group of believers, who invite people to goodness. According to Hadith, goodness means following the Quran and the Sunnah.
A Muslim who practises piety and abstains from evil should also bid either fellow Muslims to do the same. He should pray for their betterment and must never be sarcastic in his attitude. This is the general rule of reformation and has been enjoined upon every Muslim. Since the capacity of each individual varies, everyone is responsible commensurate to his capacity. To start with, he must be fully aware of what is good and bad, failing which there will be a possibility of greater damage than any good. The ignorant deliver sermons today recounting baseless fables thus creating confusions.
It is important to gain correct information about something before telling it to others. For obligations, it will be compulsory for all to command others to fulfil these and to abstain from evil. For instance, offering Salat five times a day is obligatory and it will be obligatory on every Muslim to urge the delinquents to fulfil this duty. The voluntary Salat are Mustahib (meritorious), hence telling someone to offer these will be a Mustahib act, and should be done gently. For obligations however, a gentle approach in the beginning can be extended to the use of force to a certain limit in case of non-compliance. But not like today when obligations are being neglected and Mustahib matters are made a yardstick for Islam and infidelity. Besides, this responsibility will be incumbent when there is a cause for it. It is not proper to unnecessarily probe into the activities of people, as it is the responsibility of the Islamic State to keep an eye on its subjects and punish the guilty.
Uptil here the Muslims as a whole were being discussed. At the same time, it is enjoined that there must always be a group amongst the Muslims dedicated to the cause of inviting people to goodness and forbidding evil. It is important that the members of this group have adequate knowledge of Quran and Hadith and adopt proper way of propagation. Such a group shall thus absolve other Muslims from this collective obligation. The efforts by this group will be continuous even if they do not witness any violation, or there is no occasion for it, for example, educating people about Fasting even if it is not the month of Ramadhan. Similarly, inviting the non-believers to Islam and Muslims to obedience and submission of Allah-SWT shall be invitation to goodness. It is the responsibility of an Islamic State to form such a group failing which it will be imperative for all Muslims to do so and this will be indicative of a nation’s vitality.
Although anyone conveying one word of goodness to another is contributing proportionately to this cause yet the perfect example of such a group were the Companions-RAU. They were the true source of dissipating this fragrance into the orchard of humanity like the zephyr. And then are those noble souls who dedicated their lives to the attainment of Allah-SWT’s nearness. They undertook long journeys in acquiring and imparting knowledge; spent their nights in Allah-SWT’s Zikr and reformation of mankind. Together with the knowledge of Din they enlightened their hearts in the company of accomplished saints, themselves practised righteousness, conveyed the Message to mankind and spread the light of Divine Guidance. They were the group of Sufis who diverted kingdoms from falsehood, making them seekers of the truth. Sadly enough, today instead of benefiting spiritually from these accomplished souls, the ignorant accuse them of disbelief. Right from Imam Hassan Basri-RUA to the contemporary Aulia, none has been spared including the illustrious family of Shah Wali Ullah Dehlvi-RUA and the erudite from Deoband. Neither the pious precursors nor those coming later have been given their due regard. I wonder how will such people escape the Wrath of Allah-SWT who indulge in slander of this sacred group. May Allah-SWT keep Muslims steadfast on the straight path of guidance!
And be not like those who differed even after receiving clear signs that is the People of the Book who, inspite of all the information and marks of identifications of the Holy Prophet-SW in their own Books took to deliberate opposition. They not only opposed the Holy Prophet-SW but also treated their own religion in the same way. They ignored the clear evidence and followed their vain desires, indulged in superstition and thus ruined their Din and earned disgrace in both worlds.
The crux of the preceding Ayat is that the central point of unity is holding onto the Cord of Allah-SWT and not the individual opinions. This unity transforms the entire nation into a single unit. Disputes and disunity ruined the preceding nations and will bear the same fruit today. Here it must be remembered that the fundamentals of Din are always clear and well defined leaving absolutely no room for any dispute. As for the offshoots, there is no clash in them either, if viewed impartially.
Ijtehad And Its Conditions
Yet in certain matters not clearly and categorically explained in the Quran, it is permissible to opt for one of the alternative courses of action through Ijtehad, with the hope that the choice made is correct, though the possibility of an error is there and it may well be that the other alternative is correct. This is proved by Hadith, which speaks of two rewards for the Mujtahid if he is right and only one if he errs, leaving the decision to Allah-SWT.Besides, no Mujtahid or his follower considers the other Mujtahid or his follower to be erroneous, because neither of the sides are wrongful.
Today’s common practice of labelling the other as non-believer, amidst heated arguments and clashes over trifles, is certainly not Ijtehad, which calls for complete knowledge of Quran and the Sunnah and all the connected sciences as well as a definite command over Arabic. It also demands a comprehensive knowledge of opinions of the Companions-RAU and their earnest followers, besides a total adherence to the Sunnah in practical life. It is certainly not appropriate for quasi scholars to opine over matters that even the Mujtahidin did not touch, nor attempted an interpretation.
On the Day when some faces will shine ... To Allah-SWT are all matters returned.
Faith And Its Effects
Faith is a light generated in the Qalb while disbelief is the darkness that over shadows it. The source of faith is the sacred bosom of the Holy Prophet-SW from which the light flows into the heart of each and every Muslim. Obedience and adherence to the Holy Prophet-SW increases this flow and in some hearts it flows like a canal or a river. On the contrary, disbelief being darkness every action of a non-believer, devoid of obedience, draws greater darkness. Thus layers of darkness, increase the density.
The light generated by obedience not only reinforces the light in the Qalb but also affects the environment, which too is illuminated. That is why the superiority of such people is explained in Hadith, who are a living reminder of Allah-SWT.On the other hand, the darkness spread by a non-believer or a wrongdoer affects his own heart as well as pollutes the entire atmosphere around him. And when it attains a certain level it invokes Allah-SWT’s Wrath, which not only engulfs humans but the entire surrounding. Mark that Allah-SWT punished the preceding nations because of their malefaction; but the entire environment was devastated as a result.
On the Day of Judgement the light or darkness of the hearts will be seen on the faces because that is the Day of exposure of deeds. And then will be asked the reason for turning back to disbelief after belief. The author of Behr-e-Muhit says that this question will be by way of reproach and amazement. If it is assumed to be directed at the non-believers, it will refer to breakage of the Covenant by them during their worldly life, wherein they took to disbelief. And if it is directed to the Jews and Christian the premise will be that they believed in Torah and Bible as well as in the Holy Prophet-SW whose advent was foretold in their Books, together with his-SW qualities. But when he-SW was raised, why did they refuse to believe in him-SW? If the question is directed at the innovators it will refer to those who lose their faith because of their innovations like the sects discussed in the preceding pages. And if it is at the hypocrites, it will refer to their apparent faith and inner disbelief. They will face the consequences of their misdeeds because Allah-SWT does not punish anyone without a reason and it is the people who earn their punishments Alas! If only the efforts exerted for admission into Fire are diverted to the attainment of His-SWT nearness! Remember that those with illuminated faces will forever dwell in Paradise, a manifestation of Divine Mercy, and will never be expelled. Mankind has been blessed so much that they cannot adequately thank Him-SWT , neither can their worships attain Paradise without His-SWT Mercy. Moreover the capacity to worship and the sincerity therein, itself, is by His-SWT Grace. The epitome of His-SWT Mercy is that whereas the residence in Paradise is permanent, the condemnation to Hell is not, except for the non-believers. Even if a believer is condemned to Hell for his misdeeds he shall be eventually emancipated and admitted into Paradise.
These Ayat are from Allah-SWT , comprising clear evidence revealed to the Holy Prophet-SW so that mankind may receive guidance from him-SW, for he-SW is truth and veracity personified.
Allah-SWT does not like to be unfair to anyone. According to Hadith, a believer is rewarded for his good deeds both in this world and in the Hereafter. And if a non-believer does a noble act, which, of course, he is not doing for Allah-SWT shall not qualify for reward in the Hereafter but will surely be rewarded in this world. Allah-SWT is indeed Just. He-SWT is the Master of His-SWT Own free will and the Owner of everything that lies in the heavens and the earth. No one dare object to the exercise of His-SWT Will. But His-SWT Justice and His-SWT Wisdom is such that it leaves no one deprived and His-SWT Mercy is extended to all unless a person deprives himself at his own. Besides, all matters return to Him-SWT . The ultimate decision of all affairs lies in His-SWT Domain and none save Him-SWT has the real authority.